Connecting People in Online Classrooms
We all dream of some sort of seamless integration of a myriad of tools (or a myriad of features) that allow us to connect and perform certain tasks.
Text, voice, video, real-time and recorded, presentation mode, all-platform, aesthetically pleasing, easy to set up and use, free of course, and with on-demand tech support are primarily the requirements for any type of tool we would consider.
While Blackboard has a built-in tool, it’s not always the most intuitive to use, nor does it meet the tough requirements from above. We just want to connect, we want it to be convenient, and while we can stop to wonder at the amazing opportunities the last century has brought about, we usually don’t. We want it here and now.
The table below summarizes some of the more formal communication tools that an instructor may use in an online course. Keep in mind, just like there is nothing wrong with black font on white background, there is nothing wrong with just picking up the phone! Check out what the IDS team has compiled for communication and/or presentation tools.
For students, you may also suggest the same tools (they may need some assistance, especially with Blackboard Collaborate) and add the tools below the table.
|Name||Max Number of Participants||Pros||Cons||Cost|
|Bb Collaborate||Entire class
(max 25 by phone)
|Google + Hangouts||Up to 25||
|Skype||Up to 25||
|Big Blue Button||many (meant for whole classes – could not find specific number)||
|GoToMeeting||3 for free||
||0 up to 3 ppl|
|Adobe Connect Meetings||3 for free||
||0 for 3 ppl|
|Zoom||Up to 100 (participants)||
||0 for up to 100 ppl|
|Uberconference||Up to 10||
||0 up to 10 ppl|
This tool has free messaging, works on any device and has several features, like text, images and videos. The bonus feature is that it works over SMS as well, so you don’t need the app.
This tool boasts multimedia, voice to text transcription, voice messages and many paid features, Requires sign-up.